Monday, August 11, 2008

ゲド戦記 (Tales of Earthsea, 2006)

Goro Miyazaki, the son of Hayao Miyazaki and the unfortunate director of this dingy film before your eyes, seems to have been doing the best he could. In a nutshell, which is all this dog is worth, there have been Portents in the Land of Earthsea. For one thing, dragons are fighting. Herds and flocks have fevers. The King is worried. Arren, the Prince, runs up from ambush and stabs his old man dead through the lights and liver.

Although the story is spoiled already, the rest of this is Spoilers.

Arren runs away, pursued by guilt. Why did he murder his father? We do not know. He does not know. Goro-san does not know. Questions like these leap out of the shadows behind him. Arren gets crazy-eyed. He meets Ged the Archmage, also known as the wizard Sparrowhawk. He meets the girl, Therru, and Tenar, the fat, earthy, farm woman who adopts them all. There is a lot of preaching about Balance in the world. Sparrowhawk and Arren till the earth. Lord Cob's minions come around and carry everyone but Therru off to a dark castle.

Therru meets Arren's disembodied true self. Arren keeps forgetting his sword. Nobody does what they are told (except the bad guys). Therru brings Arren his sword. Big battle with Lord Cob, an "old man" who looks, genderbendingly enough, like the darkly beautiful evil Queen in Snow White.

Therru turns out to be a dragon. Light Unleashed destroys Darkness Rampant. Balance restored. Having won the dragon, who'll turn back into a girl as soon as it's clear that Arren isn't going to stick around and plow the earth some more, Arren decides to go home and arrest himself for parricide.

By credits' roll, Team Ghibli has made a silk ear out of this sow's purse. Lots of beautiful scenery. Random set shifts. Magic tricks. No animals were harmed.

Tales from Earthsea is one of the titles, the fifth in Ursula K. Le Guin's "Earthsea Cycle," on which this thing is based. She wrote a lengthy disemvowelling — i.e., a kind of literary seppuku with implied transference to another artist — claiming that the movie should be known by its Japanese title ("Gedo Senki") because it's nothing like her books.

I disagree. The movie is exactly like her books, only shorter — i.e., long, dull, boring and preachy. Nobody likes seeing their own faults mirrored directly in pithy miniature, in public, by their own children.

Personally, I think Goro killed off the father quickly to get it over with, and wishes he could have been closer to the mark.

So much for Oedipus!



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